Scratch and dent: new appliances at super savings

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | December 6, 2012

New appliances can take a big bite out of your home improvement budget, but you can minimize the cost by selecting scratch and dent models. Available both online and in stores, scratch and dent appliances may work perfectly but might have a few blemishes, dings and scratches -- and those can add up to major savings for you.

If you are in the market for new appliances, here's the lowdown for scoring low, low prices on new but less-than-perfect-looking items.

Where do stores get scratch and dent appliances?

Appliances can come from a variety of sources:

  • Floor models
  • Appliances damaged during shipment
  • Returned items that have been reconditioned
  • Models with cosmetic manufacturing defects

When retailers are unable to return imperfect or damaged products to a manufacturer, they may mark them down substantially or sell them to independent scratch-and-dent stores for liquidation. Retailers selling their own might display them in their regular showroom or move them to outlet stores.

Is this the right savings option for you?

For many homeowners looking to save money on their appliances, it's one of the best ways to save money on appliances. In some cases, the damage is so minor it can be easily overlooked. But you have to be careful; in other instances, appliances may be built into cabinets that hide more serious damage.

Your savings can vary greatly from store to store and depend upon how the appliance was damaged. Savings of 25-40 percent may be typical in many areas. However, some scratch-and-dent stores advertise savings of up to 75 percent off the manufacturer's retail price.

Whether this option will work for you depends largely upon where you plan to place the appliance, how severely it's damaged as well as your ability to overlook certain cosmetic flaws.

Where should you buy them?

Appliances with scratches, dents and other blemishes can be found at appliance stores, specialty outlets and online.

Big box stores such as The Home Depot and Lowes may have them available in-stock. While some stores may set out new scratch and dent inventory on specific times or days, others may not have them prominently displayed, so it's always best to ask a manager if items are available or are expected to become available. If they are not available, another option may be to ask if you can buy the floor model at a reduced price.

While large retailers may offer scratch and dent items only on occasion, some stores specialize in these items and sell them exclusively. To find an outlet or liquidation store in your area, try searching online for "scratch and dent appliances" and your closest major city. Some of these stores are independently owned and stock a range of models and brands. Others are outlet stores affiliated with a particular retailer or brand.

Finally, you can shop online. Some stores may only display their inventory and require in-store pick-up, but others, such as Sears Outlets, may arrange for delivery. However, some stores might charge $200 or more to deliver large appliances.

What to know before you buy

Not all scratch and dent appliances are created equal. Some come with a manufacturer's warranty while others are sold as-is. In addition, floor models may be missing owner manuals or accessory parts.

Before buying a scratch and dent appliance, be sure you understand exactly what damage the appliance has sustained as well as your options should there be underlying mechanical problems.

This is particularly true of online purchases when you can't inspect the appliance prior to delivery. If you have to pay a delivery charge, find out whether it's refundable in the event you have to return the appliance if it doesn't work properly.

In addition, if you purchase from a retail store, be aware some locations might not offer delivery.

According to consumers who have used this option it is not unusual to save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on practically perfect appliances. However, as a smart shopper do your homework and understand any risks involved before spending your money on an as-is model.

About the Author

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.